Family biking: Our annual tree-by-bike tradition

An annual tradition.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

This weekly column follows the adventures of Madi Carlson, a carfree mom of two who lives in southeast Portland.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I don’t celebrate Christmas, but having interfaith children and a love of carrying big things on my bike means we still get a tree every winter. My Chanukah candles are part of a regular grocery run so that doesn’t pack much punch in terms of biking excitement and tree fetching has become a tradition I really look forward to.

Back when I carried my kids on my bike I’d have to carefully wrap the tree in string or netting so it would fit down in my cargo bag. But now that they’re primarily on their own bikes I can just toss a tree up on my cargo deck at full fluff. I do this out of laziness, but it also looks most impressive like so. Not to mention the excess pine needles shake off en route so I can skip the line at the tree shaker.

OK boys, go find a tree!


Over the years we’ve bought trees near and far. Our closest was five blocks from home, all uphill to get to the tree lot and all downhill to get home. Now we have access to a tree lot one flat mile from home, but we found the most exciting option to date: U-cut Christmas trees accessible by bike! It’s five miles to get there from Woodstock, but seven back so I can take a flatter route and not need to stop and rest on the way home. (I don’t know the name of the farm, but it’s at SE Lake Rd & SE Freeman Rd in Milwaukie.)

Do you have an annual tree-by-bike tradition? Where do you find your tree and how do you carry it?

Family portrait with hewn tree.

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson (@familyride on Twitter) wrote our Family Biking column from February 2018 to November 2019. She's the author of Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (Mountaineers Books). In her former home of Seattle, Madi was the Board President of Familybike Seattle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as a means for moving towards sustainable lifestyles and communities. She founded Critical Lass Seattle, an easy social group ride for new and experienced bicyclists who identify as women and was the Director of Seattle's Kidical Mass organization, a monthly ride for families. While she primarily bikes for transportation, Madi also likes racing cyclocross, all-women alleycats, and the Disaster Relief Trials. She has been profiled in the Associated Press, Outdoors NW magazine, CoolMom, and ParentMap, and she contributed to Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.

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5 years ago

My family has walked our tree home about 2 blocks a few times. A delight for sure!

5 years ago

We just got our first tree by cargo bike this season! I didn’t want the pine needles in the car. We opted for a lot less than a mile away, flat route, got the smallest tree they had and tied it perpendicular to the bike on the rear rack behind my toddler seat. Worked great!

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
5 years ago

The u-cut farm lets you take your bike all the way to the tree you’re cutting down? That’s awesome!

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
5 years ago

I buy a fake tree every decade or two. It would be easy to bike it home in the box from Target.

Md Ikramul Hoque
5 years ago

We simply got our 1st tree by consignment bike this season! I didn’t wish the pine needles within the automotive. we tend to opted for loads but a mile away, flat route, got the tiniest tree that they had and tied it perpendicular to the bike on the rear rack behind my shaver seat. Worked great! Over the years we’ve bought trees close to and much. Our nighest was 5 blocks from home, all uphill to urge to the tree ton and every one downhill to urge home. currently we’ve access to a tree ton one flat mile from home, however we tend to found the foremost exciting choice to date: U-cut Christmas trees accessible by bike read more